Ribbon cut on new facility at Friendship Haven

The opening of Friendship Haven’s Schmoker Adult Day Services building was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Monday.

Julie Thorson, Friendship Haven president and chief executive officer, officially welcomed the event’s guests, including Friendship Haven residents and staff, the Fort Dodge community, and members of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, to the new building for the first time.

“What these folks who work with the adult day care program have been able to do is offer something so innovative and so supportive, it’s really a treasure for clients that, quite honestly, I’m not sure where else a lot of people would go,” Thorson said. “They have done a super job of building a program.”

The event celebrated Tom and Norma Schmoker, whose lead gift helped make the building possible.

“Tom and Norma in many ways have been silent supporters of Friendship Haven and I think it’s very fitting to have their name on a building that represents and means so much to our clients,” Thorson said.

Tom Schmoker told the guests that when the original Friendship Haven was being built in the 1950s he applied for a job in its construction, but didn’t get it.

He then explained why he and his wife decided to become involved.

“We were going through the health center,” he said. “There was a lot of activity that day. We went on three different floors really, and all of the wings had a lot of activity. Some were making cookies. Some were playing games. There was all kinds of things going on. I’ve only been in a couple of health centers, and to me that wasn’t normal.”

Schmoker admired how Thorson knew everyone, staff and residents, by their first name, and further applauded Friendship Haven for its care.

“Thank you for putting our family name on this complex,” he said. “We don’t have much family left, but if they were around they’d be happy.”

When Schmoker said thank you, several from the crowd responded, “It’s your day.”

Amy DeLanoit, Schmoker Adult Day Services program director, said being able to offer residents more activities with the new building was greatly encouraging.

“Our participants are going to be able to spend a day with us, be able to have a home. That’s what’s so exciting, during the day, here at Friendship Haven,” she said. “That’s what our activities are like here, being at home.”

State Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, thanked the Schmokers for their contributions to the community.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Schmokers, a numbers of our seniors will be able to call this home,” he said. “This is a home-like feeling. It’s not a facility. It’s not a clinic. It’s not an institution. It is home.”

Beall explained his mother was a resident at Friendship Haven, as well as his aunts and uncles, cousins and his grandparents, and all received excellent care.

“For all of the staff, I have learned it’s much more than a job to you,” he said. “It is your ministry and your mission.”

Mayor Matt Bemrich celebrated the completion of the building.

“We are so blessed here,” he said. “Not every community is going to have these advantages and have these people that have the drive and the mission and foresight to build these types of facilities, homes, for people to use on a daily basis.”

He added, “We need these types of places for people to be able to come and get more out of their life.”

The event concluded with Norma Schmoker taking a pair of golden scissors and, with her husband at her side, cutting a green ribbon held by Friendship Haven and Growth Alliance members alike, officially opening the center.